HI GP GANG!!!
I am so sorry it has been so long since I have been on and or participated. What can I say, school, kids, life in general! But I haven't forgotten any of you! MUAH! LOL!
I come bringing a new tale for you to read. As always, I let you know ahead of time how long it is, so you don't scroll down and think, "Dear Lord! This woman has no life!" LOL! But being a writer sometimes leaves you with the flaw of being very prolific! So! I've got eight pages here, and a little more of a paragraph that gives us a grand total of nine. So, print it out, get a soda, have a sit down and read! Hope you enjoy!
Today was the quintessential perfect day. There was not a cloud in the sky, the sun was beaming, the air was warm, and the traffic was light. Eddie sped down the freeway; his favorite CD making the subwoofers thump and the bass vibrate his seat. He smiled as he drove, letting the wind toss his chestnut brown hair, and ruffle his button up shirt. He had removed his tie, loosened his collar, and found himself laughing now and then, with unabashed delight at all the good news he had received today. He couldn't wait to get home. For nine months, Eddie had been filling the position of intern at Oxenburg's Designs, and they had just offered him a position as art director at a very attractive starting salary. Starting position as art director and what was offered as pay were virtually unheard of for an intern, and he was literally beside himself with enthusiasm. He couldn't wait to get home and tell Erica! She would be so happy!
Visions of his new office with a view, and a pretty secretary filled his mind. He thought of the new suits he would splurge on, and the dress he was going to buy for Erica so they could go out and celebrate tonight! He thought of Nelson Keller's face when he told him he had gotten the position as art director! Poor old Nelson was so sure that he would beat Eddie out, hands down. This just wasn't the case! Nelson was good, Eddie was willing to give him that, but Eddie knew he was better. And today, he'd proved it. Eddie maneuvered his gun-metal, gray, Spider Eclipse through the tranquil cars that drove along, and weaved in and out of the spaces without effort. He was on such a high he wanted to speed! It was a direct comparison of how he felt! As soon as he got home, he was going to cash the check he had be written, put three fourths of it in the bank, go buy presents for Erica, and then he was going to take her out for a night on the town.
"And roses!" Eddie exclaimed, "Dozens of them, Erica!" he shouted, pressing the gas pedal to the floor. Eddie shot past three cars, flipped on his blinker to get in a space to the left, then again to get into a space at the right, then back to the middle lane that was clear as far as he could see. Laughing, he turned up the volume on the stereo again. It was so loud now; he couldn't even hear the wind rushing past his ears.
"YES!" he yelled, triumphantly, "WHOOOOOOOO!"
He thought of his future, his love for Erica, the big diamond ring he could buy to replace the small one he had given her, the wedding they could plan for now, the children they would have some day, and the vacations they could enjoy. Erica would be so pleased she would cry! Eddie thought of calling her from his cell phone, but he didn't want to tell her over the phone. He wanted to tell her in person. And if she wasn't home, it would be more time to prepare the surprise. Eddie flipped on his blinker again, having covered the long strip of freeway, and glided over to the left. He had a fleeting thought that he should probably slow down so he wouldn't get a ticket, but even a speeding ticket couldn't possibly bring him down. Eddie felt so good, he could get ten speeding tickets, and still smile, and say thank you to an officer. He laughed at that thought, and then readied himself to pass a car in front of him. He checked his mirror, flipped on his blinker, and passed over into the middle lane.
Eddie stuck his hand out the window and let the wind shudder over his hand. He raised and lowered his fingers so the resistance would make his hand pitch through the airstream. Eddie's gray eyes were just leaving the ruffling material of shirt fluttering over his hand, when he registered something from the corner of his right eye. A gold blur had jetted in front of him, and suddenly, there was a bright flash of two red lights right at eye level. The break lights sent a heat wave through Eddie's neck and chest. His foot slammed on the break, and his hands gripped the wheel so tightly, his knuckles turned white. He swerved to avoid rear-ending the gold car in front of him, and made it to the center lane. Eddie heard a loud crash, and looked in his rear view mirror. He saw a gray car buckle when it hit the gold car Eddie had just dodged, then a maroon sedan hit the gray car, then a blue pick up truck hit the maroon sedan, and then a minivan hit the blue pick up truck.
"Oh dear God!" Eddie exclaimed. He pulled off the side of the road, and called 911 from his cell phone. The phone rang, and then the dispatch operator answered.
"911, what is your emergency?" came the operator's voice.
"Yes, this is Eddie Leonard, and I'm on the 605 North. There's been a terrible car accident just past the 91 exit. Please hurry!" Eddie said in a quivering voice.
"We're sending rescue teams now, Mr. Leonard, just stay on the line."
"I can't, there's people that are hurt!" Eddie said.
"Sir, are you hurt?" The operator asked.
"No, I'm okay, I just need to get to those people. I veered to get out of the way of a sudden stop..." Eddie's voice cracked, "I guess the person behind me couldn't stop fast enough..."
"Mr. Leonard, are you still there?" the operator asked.
"Yeah, I'm here....I just....oh god....I feel like this is all my fault." Eddie cried.
"Mr. Leonard? You sound strange, are you calling from a cell phone?" the operator asked.
"Yes ma'am." Eddie answered.
"I can hear a pulse of some sort, are you close to anything that would interfere with you signal?" the operator asked.
"No.... but I hear that too." Eddie said. The pulsing sound was odd to say the least. There was a sort of rise and fall that Eddie could hear, but added to the static, the crackle, and the hissing, Eddie could swear what he was hearing was voices. Hundreds and hundreds of voices...and they were singing, holding out one continuous chord that was perfect in pitch, harmony, and tone.
"Eddie? Could you come out here for me?" came a voice. Eddie whirled around, looking left and right, and over his shoulder, but no one was there.
"Operator?" Eddie said into his cell phone.
"Mr. Leonard? Can you hear me?"
"Yes, I can hear you, can you hear me?" Eddie said.
"Eddie? Can you see me?" said the voice.
"No, I can't! What the hell is going on?" Eddie said with a note of panic in his voice.
"Mr. Leonard, I believe we're getting some interference in your signal." The operator said.
"Yeah? You think!" Eddie shouted into the cell phone. The singing on the phone had gotten stronger, more audible, and Eddie tried to listen to see if he recognized the tune. But it was nothing he had heard before. It was just a group of voices singing one continuous note.
"Eddie? I'm on your right. Can you see me now?" asked the voice.
"NO! I can't! Where are you!"
"Don't be afraid, Eddie. I'm here to take you home." Said the voice.
"I can drive myself, my car wasn't damaged." Eddie said, getting out of the car, and standing up. He had to find out who this was that kept talking to him. On the right side of Eddie's car was a very plain looking man. He wore a red plaid shirt, a pair of khaki pants, and his long wavy hair made him look like a hippy. The only thing about him that looked out of place was his eyes. They were striking, like two round stones of turquoise gleaming from the man's face.
"I thought you were one of the EMTs there for a minute. I couldn't see you in the car. You scared me a little." Eddie said, walking over and shaking the man's hand.
"Eddie...we have to go." The man said.
"First thing's first pal, there's people over there that need us." Eddie said, and headed to the crash. The man followed silently. As Eddie jogged to the crash site, he looked over his shoulder with a sudden thought. How did this man know his name? It wasn't as important as the people that needed his help. And even though it bothered him a little, he would get to the bottom of it as soon as he got some of the injured to safety.
Eddie went to the minivan first. More than likely, there were children inside. The van had been pushed sideways in the lane, and he could see that the driver's side was bashed in pretty badly. As he neared the buckled hood of the van, he could see a woman crying and shouting., smoke bloomed from the hood, and the air bag had released.
"It's alright ma'am, I'm gonna help you." Eddie said.
"My baby! My baby is in the back seat! I can hear her crying!" she screamed, "I can't get to her, my leg is penned. The man that had followed Eddie went to the driver's side of the van, and Eddie went to the back. He could hear the baby crying.
"What's her name?" Eddie called to the woman in the front.
"Emma." The woman cried, "Emma it's okay, Mommy's here!" she wailed. Eddie tried the door, but it was jammed. Even though there was smoke, there was no fire that he could see, but the baby's car seat was lodged between the end of the back seat, and the seat in front of her. He could see baby Emma's feet kicking, and her tiny, biscuit dough, hand flailing. Removing his shirt, Eddie bundled his hand, and struck the window. It was already cracked and he was sure that Emma would be protected from the glass from the way she was positioned. The first blow only mashed the window into a dented spider web of glass, but the second blow made more progress, and Eddie was able to push the glass down, and out of the way. He hoisted himself up, and climbed in. Pushing the car seat back, he was met by a pair of watery green eyes, and a chubby little face that was red with fear.
"Heeeey." Eddie cooed at the infant. She replied with a wail that made Eddie's shoulders jump.
"Is she alright?" the woman shouted.
"Not a scratch on her. She's just mad." Eddie chuckled, "But you should have her checked out anyway."
"Oh, thank God!" the woman cried.
"How we doin' up there, mister, what kind of shape is Mom in?" Eddie asked his unknown companion.
"She's bleeding on her shin, but her leg is broken. She's cut pretty bad." The man said.
"We might need to wait for the EMTs to get her so they can get her out of the..."
Eddie heard the minivan door open, and the woman was suddenly free.
"How'd you...?" Eddie stopped, and stared at the man wondering how he had managed to get the door open. Eddie had seen it, and he knew that more than likely the fire department would have had to cut the door open.
"It's alright. You can walk." The man told the woman. She took his hand, and he helped her down from the van. She gingerly put weight on her leg, and stepped around to the front of the van. With Emma in tow, Eddie crawled to the front seat, and delivered the baby to her mother.
"There ya go, Emma. Nothin' to it." He smiled. The infant clung to her mother, but looked back at Eddie and managed a slight grin, but turned instantly to squeeze her mother.
"Oh, my sweet, precious girl." The woman cried.
"Step this way, Dana. The EMTs will be here shortly." The man said. Eddie frowned.
"You must get around a lot, huh mister?" Eddie asked the man. He smiled a little and nodded his head.
"You could say that." He replied.
"Next up, let's get to the truck." Eddie said, and then turned, "Hey, you got a name, mister?"
"My name is Raziel." The man replied.
"That's different." Eddie replied, "How about I just call you Raz?"
"That would be fine." Raziel replied with a warm smile. They reached the truck, but the man that was driving was already out and leaning against his automobile.
"You okay?" Eddie asked, nearing the man and resting his hand on his shoulder.
"Yeah, just banged up, but you should probably go on ahead. I think most of the people behind me have whiplash, and bruises. I can walk, so I'll go and check up on them. You go on ahead, and get to those up ahead." He said.
"Good man." Eddie said.
"Name's Tom." The pick up driver said.
"I'm Eddie, Eddie Leonard, and this is Raz." Eddie said, "You find anyone that needs help, Tom, you give me and Raz a yell."
"We'll do." Tom said, and departed. Eddie and Raz jogged up towards the worst of the crash. A maroon sedan was on its roof, and the driver was still inside. Eddie lay on the ground, and looked inside.
"Can you hear me?" Eddie called to the driver. All Eddie could see was hair, twisted legs, broken glass, and blood.
"Oh god, this isn't good."
"All is well, she is just unconscious." Raz said, " But we have to move fast, look." Eddie looked to the ground. There was gas leaking from the car, and trailing to the roof. A lit cigarette was smoldering on the roof of the car.
"Raz, help me get her out!" Eddie exclaimed. Frantically, Eddie climbed in, and tried the seatbelt, but it wouldn't unbuckle. Raziel, who had climbed in just behind Eddie, put out the cigarette by patting it with his hand, and then ran around to the other side of the car.
"Melissa, wake up. We have to get you out." Raziel said. Eddie frowned. Did this guy know everyone here?
"The buckled won't detach!" Eddie said in a panicked voice.
"Try again." Raziel said in a calm voice.
"I did, Raz, it won't budge!" Eddie shouted.
"Melissa? You have to wake up now." Raziel said in gentle voice. The girl's eyes fluttered, and then opened. She didn't move, but looked on in shock at Raziel.
"Don't be afraid, Melissa, we're here to help you." Raziel said. Eddie, still trying the seat belt buckle, frowned with effort and wonderment.
"I can't get her out, Raz, I smell smoke, the gas is leaking!" Eddie said.
"There's no danger now, it's all going to be okay. I just need you to try that buckle one more time." Raziel said.
"Raz, buddy, I tried the buckle, and it won't..."
With the seat belt lose, Melissa dropped to the roof of the car. Dazed and confused, Raziel and Eddie helped Melissa to the side of the road. She cradled her arm, and from the looks of it, it was more than likely broken. They left her with Dana and her baby, Emma, and went back to help.
"We're running out of time, Eddie, I have to get you home." Raziel said.
"Home can wait, these people need help." Eddie said.
"But your time is limited. These are things that will happen regardless of your presence." Raziel said. Eddie stopped and looked at Raziel.
"How do you know me?" Eddie said shortly.
"I've always known you. I was assigned to you when you were born." Raziel said.
"What?" Eddie frowned, "Look Raz, I caused this accident, I can't just leave these people here!"
"You didn't cause this accident, Eddie. The gold car in front of you did. He's been drinking, and when he dropped his cellular phone just after he pulled in front of you, and hit his breaks. That's what caused this. Not you." Raziel said.
"How do you know all of this? Are you some sort of psychic? And how do you know that woman's name, and the girl's name. How do you know my name?" Eddie asked.
"We know all of you." Raziel answered.
"We? You mean there's more of you guys running around that know everyone?" Eddie asked with an amused expression.
"Of course." Raziel answered.
"Okay, look, I don't really understand. This is all a little too Twilight Zone for me, so we'll talk after I get to some more people." Eddie said. But when he turned around, he realized that the sun had set, the EMTs were on the scene, as well as the fire trucks, and emergency crews were wheeling people from one ambulance to another. Police cars were blocking off traffic on the other side of the freeway, and as far as Eddie could see, there were headlights from the backed up traffic.
"What the..." Eddie frowned.
"Eddie, I have to take you home, now." Raziel said again.
"Will you just shut up? I have to...have to figure out what is going on...." Eddie's voice trailed off. Raziel stood silently. Eddie started walking towards the gold car. He saw a group of police cars parked on the side of the road, and in one of the cruisers, a man was seated in the back seat, with his hands behind him.
"That's the man that caused this, Eddie." Raziel said suddenly. Eddie looked over his shoulder at Raziel and continued to walk. He could hear crying. A woman. He knew that voice.
"Erica!" Eddie exclaimed. As he broke into a run, he stopped short of the sight of a gun metal gray tangled mess of what used to be a car just behind the gold car. His wind stopped in his throat, and he felt his body quake with the sight of it. As he neared, he saw officers trying to stop Erica from approaching.
"You have to let me see! I know he's okay! Eeeeddieeee!" she wailed.
"Ma'am, I know, I know. But there isn't anything that you can do. He's gone, ma'am. He's gone." The officer was saying. Eddie looked to Raziel.
"No.... it's not true." Eddie said. Raziel looked back without expression.
"I was coming to surprise him.... for dinner tonight..." Erica cried, "I must have got her about thirty minutes after...after...I thought that car looked like his...I was sure I was wrong...I'm still sure I'm wrong...lots of people have that car! Lots of people..." Erica sobbed into the chest of the officer that was holding her, preventing her from approaching the car.
"Ma'am, I can't let you go over there..." the officer was saying, and Eddie turned away. When he looked up, Raziel was waiting. But his clothes had changed to robes, and radiance unknown to anything earthly, emitting from Raziel's face.
"You're an angel?" Eddie asked.
"I am." Raziel replied.
"Does that mean, I'm a ghost?" Eddie asked.
"For the most part." Raziel smiled.
"You said you had to take me home...you didn't mean my apartment, did you?" Eddie asked.
"No, not your apartment, Eddie. But if you don't go with me now, you will have to find you own way. That could be a very long time. Years.... centuries.... you time here is over. If you stay, you'll miss the step to the next plain. Are you coming Eddie?" Raziel asked. Eddie looked back at the car that used to be his. In it somewhere, was the vessel that was once his body. He felt his chest heave with the digestion of what was happening.
"What about Erica?" Eddie asked.
"Her, and your son, will be just fine." Raziel replied.
"My son?" Eddie frowned, his mouth dropping open.
"That's what Erica was coming to surprise you with." Raziel said. Eddie looked back at Erica, pleading with the officers, crying, begging, and screaming.
"My son...." Eddie whispered, and he felt his eyes burn with the onset of tears.
"Eddie? Time is of the essence." Raziel said. Eddie turned to Raziel and sighed, trying to regain his composure.
"I have one request. Then I will go with you." Eddie said.
"Ask." Replied Raziel.
As Erica sobbed in the back of the ambulance, her mind went numb with what had happened. Each time she thought that she no longer had Eddie, her hand rubbed against her stomach, and she sobbed.
"Eddie..." she whispered, covering her mouth, and trying to stifle each heave of her stomach. She had envisioned the Eddie's face when she would tell him that she was with child. She knew he would be happy. But now she would have to raise their child alone. Their child would never know his father, never know where talents and characteristics came from...without Eddie; she would not be able to go on.
"Why did this have to happen...why, Eddie...?" Erica sobbed. Suddenly, Erica felt warmth falling over her. It was as if someone had turned on a heater, and she was sitting right beneath the vent. The coldness in her hands, and knuckles melted away, her tears subsided, and her grief let up for one glorious moment. She slowly opened her eyes, and beheld the most beautiful sight she had ever seen in her life.
"Erica." Eddie whispered, and smiled at her so angelically, Erica trembled.
"Oh..." was all the Erica could manage. Eddie reached out, and placed his hand on Erica's stomach.
"He needs you, sweetheart. But I have to go. You have to give him enough love for the two of us. I already love him. And I want you to know how very much I love you. Raise him Erica...and tell him about me. He'll know me, as long as he has you." Eddie said.
"But I can't do it all by myself, Eddie! I need you here with me." Erica said, in a trembling voice.
"You'll be just fine. His step father will be there for him." Eddie said, "Alex is a good man."
"Step-father? Oh, Eddie I couldn't." Erica cried.
"Not now...but you will." Eddie smiled. He reached out and caressed her face, tracing her jaw down to her chin.
"I don't want you to leave." Erica cried, closing her eyes as Eddie brought his forehead to hers.
"I'll always be with you." Eddie whispered. Erica reached up to squeeze Eddie's hand. She felt something there, for an instant, and then it was gone. She didn't want to open her eyes, because she wanted this moment to last. But she knew that Eddie was no longer there. Her hands went to her stomach.
"Okay Eddie.... okay...."
There was a slight brush against Erica's knee. When she opened her eyes, she hoped against all odds that Eddie would be there. Instead, she met the gentle eyes of a EMT.
"Erica? My name is Alex Preston. I'm sorry for you loss. We need to contact Eddie's family, and we need to get some information from you. I know the timing is horrible, but..."
"What did you say your name was?" Erica asked, with a sudden light in her eyes.
"Alex...Alex Preston." He replied. His handsome face gave her a sympathetic, polite smile.
"Okay." Erica nodded. She felt a flutter in her heart, and tried to keep from crying, and as she and Alex went through some information, a man made his way to the back of the ambulance.
"Sir? I was informed that the young man that was killed, well, his girlfriend is here somewhere."
"That's this lady right here..." Alex said.
"Uh, ma'am. I know this probably isn't the best time to talk, but I have to tell you something that's sort of strikes me as odd."
"Odd seems to be the theme tonight." Erica said. Alex glanced at Erica, and then to the man. It was as if he seemed to know what was about to be said.
"See, ma'am, my name is Tom, and I was in the blue pick-up truck. On account of the fellah that helped me out, I saw it fitting that you needed to hear about this." Tom said.
"Tom, Erica has been through a lot, now might not be the time..." Alex started.
"It's okay, really." Erica said. Tom took a deep breath, and raised his eyebrows.
"They said that you're intended's name was Eddie. Is that right?" Tom asked.
"Yes, that's right." Erica said.
"Well, ma'am, I was approached by a man that called himself Eddie. Him and another man that he introduced as Taz, or Raz or something like that." Tom said. Erica reached for her purse, and pulled out her wallet. She flipped over to the pictures, and showed one of her and Eddie together, to Tom.
"Is this him?" Erica asked.
"Yes ma'am it is." Tom said with great certainty. Erica's eyes welled up, and she smiled through her tears as she took her thumb over the picture.
"See ma'am, I think what we got here is a case of mistaken identity. I ain't the only one that saw him. There's a woman over there, and he helped her and her baby, and there's a girl that was pulled from an over turned car by this same fellah." Tom said.
"Where are these people?" Erica asked.
"Erica, I don't think this is a good idea." Alex said, "Situations like these cause all sorts of stories to come about...and we know that who they saw wasn't Eddie." Alex said.
"Alex...I need this. For me...and my son." Erica said. Alex smiled at Erica after a long pause, and helped her down from the ambulance.
"Then I'll go with you." Alex said, "It's the least I can do."
Together, Alex and Erica got accounts from Dana, the mother, and listened with awe struck amazement as Dana spoke of how Eddie had handed Emma to her safe and sound. They listened to Melissa, the girl in the over turned maroon sedan, speak of how Eddie and Raz worked feverishly to free her from danger. Other people positively identified Eddie as the guy that was helping before the rescue workers arrived, and others gave accounts of seeing Eddie running up and down the crash site, looking for someone else to help. Erica's heart beat faster with each report she heard. She was so filled with happiness in the midst of a tragedy; she had to lean on Alex to walk back to the ambulance. Once there, Alex sat next to her, and sighed.
"I really don't know what to make of all this, Erica." He confessed. Erica had a distant, but peaceful look on her face.
"Then perhaps it's time you started believing." She sighed.
"I know that you don't know me, and I know you've just been through something horrible. But, if you should need me, for anything at all, Erica, I want you to give me a call." Alex said. Erica smiled, and took the number Alex had written on a piece of paper.
"I think you should probably have someone drive you home, too." Alex said. Erica looked at him with a peaceful expression.
"I'll be fine. Eddie said I would be fine. I believe him." She replied.
"What!" Alex asked in shock, "You saw him too?"
Erica let out a rush of wind, and nodded to the affirmative.
"When I first got here, all I could think about was how Eddie had left me." Erica started. She paused, and her eyes welled up with tears. Alex reached over and squeezed her hand. She smiled, and took a deep breath.
"But he didn't leave me..." she gasped, "He was just going home."